Board-level electronic components. Interesting set of commodities eh? Well, they are. Pair this with the quality that the U.S. Military demands, and you have a very interesting and complex situation. If you are one of the thousands of U.S. Gov’t/Military subcontractors trying to stay afloat in this ever-changing market, then you’ll want to listen up. There is one word that every OEM, CM, Repair Shop, etc. dreads: Obsolete.

How easy is it than to simply call your favorite franchise distributor and place an order online? Well, if the component is obsolete, not very easy at all. The entire Mil/Aero industry, across all the various end-users, from a small to mid-size OEM, to a top Contract Manufacturer, to Avionics and Repair/MRO, Depots and Bases, needs an Independent Distributor that they can trust. Both logistically and practically speaking, trying to complete government contracts or a custom build without an Independent on your side is like playing with matches…you may just start a fire if you aren’t careful.

Did you know?

A 2006 survey of 101 manufacturing executives in the automotive industry conducted by Nielsen concluded that just one minute of downtime caused by component obsoletion can cost up to $22,000. – Control Design

Here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of running into component issues:

  • For OEMs specifically, start at the design phase. This may sound a bit like common sense, but many OEMs, specifically in the Mil/Aero industry, do not take component life-cycle into consideration at the design phase. Major microcircuits and other components should be researched before being integrated into crucial systems.
  • Plan, Plan, Plan. Yes, this also seems like a no-brainer. However, if all OEMs and CMs were able to stock their shelves with replacement parts for all the crucial components in their builds, this article wouldn’t even exist. OK, so stocking your shelves with thousands of dollars’ worth of board-level technology is pretty much, well… impossible. But when the scale is applied, one could argue that more could be done in this arena.
  • Dedicate a team of buyers, large or small, to specifically target potential future problems. Traditional buying based on the designer to the engineer to the production manager to the supply chain manager to plopping a big BOM on the buyer’s desk is, pardon the pun, obsolete! Companies are starting to dedicate entire teams to just obsolescence issues. This could save your company countless man-hours and dollars. The right person behind the wheel planning ahead can be priceless.
  • Find a reliable Independent Distributor. Now we get to the heart of the matter, so to speak. Some say Independent Distributors are a necessary evil. To be honest, we are OK with this statement. Certainly, the word ‘evil’ isn’t so appealing, but the keyword here is necessary. Independents are 100% necessary. The key is finding the right one. Do you get fair pricing, or taken advantage of because they have the last of the last? Do they have a 100% quality rating? Anything less is simply unacceptable. Do they respond to you within minutes to put out any fires that you may have? A good Independent is never closed. Do you have a competent salesperson that knows what he is even selling? Or are you working with a (no offense millennials) college graduate sitting in a cubicle with a script? Does your Independent offer real, tangible obsolescence solutions? Or do they just mark every part up 40% and send a quote. These are the questions that supply chain executives, planners, and buyers should be asking themselves before choosing who they decide to work with.

The world of obsolescence isn’t going anywhere. Board-Level technology will simply always evolve faster than the units they drive. Redesign for legacy programs will always be too expensive an option in most cases. All we can do is manage it to the best of our ability.

FSR Technology Group is a cutting edge, multi-faceted solution house to part obsoletion. Give one of our expert Account Managers a call today @ 516.531.6200 to experience the FSR Difference.